When we first launched Defending Big D, it was a struggle. I had underestimated the amount of work that went into successfully running a sports blog to the standards I wished to accomplish, and I spent way too much of my own time attempting to build a readership from absolutely nothing. It was also a struggle to find the balance in the type of coverage I wished to present on DBD, and I look back at those first six months or so and I can't help but cringe -- the writing wasn't that great and the actual content was severely lacking in quality.
Fairly quickly, however, I decided I couldn't do it alone. First, Brandon Bibb joined the efforts and then we were joined by Art Middleton. Brad, who was one of the first to start posting FanPosts on the site, became our daily links post correspondent and quickly moved up to feature writer and editor. The team was growing, but our expanded blog coverage coincided with the first of five straight years without playoff hockey in Dallas.
It was frustrating at times. Brad and I would ask ourselves, "If we write it, and no one reads it, does it even exist?" Averaging more than 1,000 views in a single day was considered a success, but when SB Nation brass challenged us to not only double but to essentially increase our traffic 10-fold we just laughed -- that was impossible. Especially in a hockey market like Dallas.
Boy, have we ever been proven wrong.
When I returned to DBD from working for NBC Sports, we hit the ground running with a renewed focus in expanding our coverage. We wanted to provide extensive stories on the prospects, the minor league system and everything to do with the Dallas Stars at the NHL level. We continued to add to the writing team, we added specialized contributors and through the gracious support of those in the front office we inexplicably obtained full press credentials to cover the team.
DBD has essentially had the same approach to coverage since the start of the 2010-2011 season. We've learned a lot along the way and adjusted accordingly -- and the switch to SBN United has altered our approach a bit -- but our actual coverage has remained constant over the past few years. Our traffic and reader participation, however, has done nothing but exponentially grow each month and each year.
In June, 2013, Defending Big D had the highest overall traffic of any hockey blog on SB Nation. That's better than any blog that covered a team in the playoffs, and that's better than any blog that covers a team in what are generally thought to be the epicenters of hockey fanaticism. We aren't competing with any other SBN blog, and this isn't to say any other SBN blogs are not doing as well as we are when it comes to hockey coverage -- in fact, we're always learning from others around the network. It's a team effort.
It took Defending Big D nearly two years to hit the 1,000,000 mark in page views. Three years later, and we've eclipsed 8,500,000 views after hitting the 7,000,000 mark sometime near the start of the season. We're exponentially growing, month after month.
But it's an incredible feat, and one that we are humbly honored to have accomplished.
What's amazing about this feat is that the Dallas Stars were not in the playoffs and should have been well out of the mind of hockey fans in and outside of Dallas. Yet the Stars chose the month of June to accomplish the most change and news-worthy events than we've ever experienced in the previous four-plus years -- and that's certainly a big reason for such a tremendous month while everyone else was covering playoff hockey.
There's more to it than that, however.
We've seen big breaking news with the Dallas Stars before. I've seen what search-traffic for big trades can be for the website and what the external traffic boost can bring to our site. What's happened the past year, which culminated in the record-setting month, is that fans of hockey in the Dallas area have proven that there is -- in fact -- a sizable interest in the Stars, contrary to popular belief around the NHL.
It's true that the levels of media scrutiny of hockey in Dallas will never reach the levels you'll see in the other major markets, such as Vancouver or New York or Toronto or Boston. But it's clear there is a substantial and growing interest in a franchise that had become dormant under ownership and bankruptcy issues, which happened to coincide with five straight years of mediocre hockey.
Dallas is a fickle market, and winning is what really matters. Yet the fans in the area are waking up to the growing optimism surrounding the Dallas Stars and what the changes of the past few years means for this franchise moving forward.
Every day, new readers find our site and most of them stick around and come back the next day. More than ever before a good portion of our traffic comes from returning readers who come to the homepage day after day to see what shenanigans Jim Nill and company are up to now. More and more, Stars fans are becoming more educated about this team and moving on from the past -- embracing an exciting future and even in the barren months of the summer are seeking out as much coverage of their favorite team they can find.
Defending Big D is very lucky -- we operate in a market with very limited hockey coverage. Mike Heika and Mark Stepneski do a tremendous job, and the team's official website is churning out some truly great stuff as well, but there is significantly limited outlets of coverage compared to other hockey markets. We're doing the same thing we've always done but the Stars fanbase is expanding and growing once more -- a sign that Jim Lites and his team are also doing a great job themselves.
It's an exciting time to be a Dallas Stars fan and now, more than ever, it's clear that the hockey fanbase in Dallas is once again being undervalued. Hockey may never gain the following you see in Chicago, Boston, Toronto or New York (all original six, by the way) but it's certainly not the barren wasteland it's made out to be.
We salute and thank you, the fans of the Dallas Stars.